The main costs for any of the Camino de Santiago routes are your daily budget on the Camino and getting to and from your start and finish points. For most of in Europe it is fairly quick and easy to get to and from any of the routes – not so from North America, (see travel page here), however the exchange rate between the US Dollar, Sterling and Euro currently makes walking the Camino cheaper than it has ever been for pilgrims from American and Britian.
Day to Day Costs While Walking
The most popular Camino routes are the Camino Frances and the Portuguese Camino. Both of these routes have good infrastructures for pilgrims; the most important of these are hostels, which are the cheapest, friendliest and best places to stay to meet and talk with other pilgrims. Just a quick note on the hostels: almost all of the hostels you see in any pilgrim guide are only for pilgrims.
Day to day living can be very reasonable – alternatively I know of people that stayed in hotels all along the route. I have met one man who stayed in every Parador he could. I stayed almost always in albergues, two nights while on the Camino I stayed in a pension, (bed and breakfast), it cost about €20, (budget €30 for small towns and villages, €50 min for larger towns and cities), each time for one room for myself – this though is along the way in small villages and towns – expect to pay a lot more in Santiago or any of the major cities where it is about double this for a low end hotel.
Albergue each night 8 to 15 euro
Evening Meal 10 to 12 euro for the pilgrim menu
I would start each morning in a cafe having breakfast, about €3 inc coffee. During the rest of the day I would spend about €4 on coffee, tea, cold drinks, and ice cream. Lunch I would buy and make myself: cold meats, cheese, bread, and fruits, about €3. Sometime I would eat in the albergue in the evening, cooking with other pilgrims, sometimes eating the pilgrim menu. In all the large cities I spent much more, between €20 and €30, as I treated myself to some great seafood – though this was only four times before Santiago de Compostela.
Total costs per day: 35 Euro, about $38 or £28
Hostel: 12, Evening Meal: 12, Breakfast: 3, Lunch: 3, sundries: 5 – note no beer money included here. (My words of warning: my budget for any trip has never been under my plan it has always been over)
Effectively you can walk the whole route taking 31 days and it will cost about €1,085, personally I would budget for another few hundred if possible, things just happen.
My daily costs were between €20-30 – back in 2005, in 2012 walking in France I spent about €50 per day. Over the four weeks that I walked I spent about €1000, €250 per week, therefore just over €35 per day on average. I always made sure that I always had money for any emergencies, (never used or needed). My bank cards worked fine in all the Spanish bank machines and the same for my credit card.
How much did you spend per day on the Camino is a thread and poll on the forum. The largest percentage spent between €20 and €30 per day, though it is very closely followed by those who spent between €30 and €40.
Travel to the Start of the Camino
Getting to the start points of any of the Camino routes is not simple and takes a little planning. For example the most common start points of the Camino Frances, St Jean Pied de Port or Pamplona, do not have large airports. If you are travelling from outside of Europe this thread on the Camino forum has great information on the best connections for flying to and train travel in Spain.
I flew to Paris the first time, and travelled by overnight train on SNCF to Bayonne; the connection from here to St Jean is easy and very short; alternatively stay on the same train to Pamplona. The second time I drove from Vienna and left my car at Roncesvalles for four weeks, the car park is free but has no security.
The amount you spend on air travel will depend on how far away from Spain you live and how you get there. However air travel is a major expense – currently Skyscanner.com is is my favourite booking engine for comparing flight costs.
Getting home. I think most would book their return flights in advance, more so if you are flying outside of Europe. I didn’t. I wanted some flexibility; I had all summer and did not know if I would finish the Camino before I went to France and Spain for more travel.
It can be expensive to pay for any returns flights from Santiago de Compostela if they are not booked in advance. If you have to be back for a certain time for work, family or anything I would recommend booking your tickets in advance, especially in July and August. There is a rumour that goes around every year that Spanish Airlines will provide reduced flight prices for pilgrims – I have never seen any evidence of this.